Amended Emergency Order #10 and Your Business

November 24, 2020

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) issued Emergency Order #10 (the Order). During the press briefings, the PHMDC consistently told the public and media that Order #10 prohibits indoor mass gatherings and limits outdoor gatherings to 10 people or less. The Order continued all of the prior restrictions, including a mask requirement for all individuals over the age of five (5) and limiting most businesses to 50% capacity. The Order further prohibits sports activities, competitions, group exercise classes, festivals, concerts, conferences and meetings. The Order went into effect at 12:01am on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 and remains in effect until December 16, 2020. Violations of this Order can result in a $1,000 fine for every violation under Madison Municipal Ordinance Sec. 7.05(6), and a $500 fine for violating Dane County Ordinance Sec. 46.40(2).

At press conferences and in other communications to the media, PHMDC stated that the Order prohibited “indoor gatherings of any size,” which was not reflected in the language of the Order.  This additional statement may have raised questions in the minds of business owners across Dane County as to what the Order required of them.  Restaurant owners may wonder whether providing indoor seating to patrons at different tables constituted a mass gathering under the Order. Gym owners may question whether personal training sessions were prohibited as an indoor gathering or whether the activity was acceptable if physical distancing and cleaning protocols were maintained. Citizens may also be confused as to whether their childcare provider could come into their home to watch their children while they worked, or whether a contractor could enter a private home to finish work on a job site.

On Friday, November 20, 2020, PHMDC issued an Amendment to Emergency Order #10, which clarifies what is and is not a prohibited gathering. The Amended Emergency Order simply states that any indoor gathering of individuals not in the same household or living unit is prohibited. However, both Emergency Order #10 and the Amended Emergency Order #10 distinguish between personal and business activities. For example, individuals of the same family unit are allowed to dine at restaurants that maintain a 25% capacity limit, but individuals may not go to a different household unit’s home to dine. Contractors may still enter a home to fix a furnace or a faulty pipe to provide a business service, but individuals may not invite their contractor over to catch up about family news. Prior restrictions regarding facemasks and capacity are still applicable and businesses should take care to continue to follow them.

If you have questions about how the Amended Emergency Order #10 could impact you or your business, please contact an attorney for further guidance.